Going Beyond Word of Mouth

I had an opportunity to address a group of about 20 local business owners in Ball Ground this morning and was encouraged by all that I learned from them… Below is a synopsis of my presentation regarding marketing small businesses today… BTW… if you ever get a chance to be a guest speaker at a local group, club or organization, take advantage of it, even if you HATE public speaking. You’ll be surprised how comfortable you will be discussing what you know and love… your expertise!

When I ask small business owners where their customers come from, the answer I hear most often is “word of mouth”. In fact, 85% of small businesses surveyed by Verizon this year said that customers learn about their business through word of mouth. We all love referrals, right!? and why not? Warm leads, bundled up tightly with the endorsements of trusted sources… they have the highest chance of turning into business.

Referrals are also a sign that you’re doing something right; after all, someone took the time and effort to refer a customer to you, which means that somebody was genuinely impressed with you and your work. Who would not prefer this method of promotion?

But… what if I told you it’s not good enough to retire on?

Word of mouth and referral business will max out eventually. It’s not realistically scalable as a long-term sales strategy. At some point you will have done all you can to encourage referrals through your own resources, and at some further point, you’ll tap out the extent of your contacts and the people they know personally.

You’ll inevitably reach a stage where you will have to go beyond your connections and friends-of-friends with marketing materials that speak just as encouragingly about yphoneour company to the outside world as that warm fuzzy referral did. The marketing plan strategies listed here will keep the phone ringing long term at your business…

Here are some things we at I2D has learned over the years which may help you create marketing that works BEYOND word of mouth…

Marketing that Works:

1. A professionally designed website that makes a great first impression

2. A website that is optimized for Search Engines (what’s the difference between a website with no SEO or inbound links and WOM?) NOTHING!

3. A “responsive” or mobile friendly website

4. A Blog hosted ON your website if possible (websites with blogs get 55% more traffic)

5. Using the right channel of social media to make friends – not dig for customers

6. Email marketing using a service like MailChimp and your own customer/prospect list

7. Taking time to honestly review your current marketing materials

  • Fix any and all errors, e.g., misspellings, wrong word use, missing contact info…
  • Make sure your message is
    - consistent
    - quantifies value (ie: $25 savings)
    - creates a sense of urgency (this week only)
    - is not too creative, cute or silly
  • Market to the right audience – everyone is not a potential customer
  • Increase the frequency of your ad placement
  • Update content regularly and be timely with use of trends
  • Don’t use volatile marketing tools, e.g., flyers on car windows
  • Seek objectivity. Get your ads reviewed by an outsider

8. Creating easy ways for customers to share word of mouth

  • Specifically ask for referrals from current customers, family and friends
  • Suggest easy ways to leave testimonials. Invite a customer on to a Skype call and video a testimonial, or ask them to leave a review on your Facebook or Google+ page
  • Provide preprinted referral cards your customer can leave with a friend.

9. Creating a marketing budget

10. Seeking the advice of a marketing professional like Inspired 2 Design – contact us to schedule your appointment.